When arterial blockages are suspected, an echocardiography may reveal abnormalities in the heart walls fed by those arteries. These are referred to as "wall motion abnormalities." The test can also reveal other problems with the heart's function such as cardiomyopathy (an impairment of muscle contractility). A cardiologist will review the results with you and may suggest additional testing if questions remain about the cause of your symptoms.
In addition to revealing wall motion abnormalities, an echocardiography can show thickened heart muscles or deposits of fat within them. This occurs when there is a large amount of stress on the heart, such as from severe hypertension or valve disease. It can also reveal previous injuries or infections of the heart.
An echocardiography is useful in assessing the severity of coronary artery disease (CAD). It can also help identify causes of heart failure other than CAD, such as mitral valve disease or cardiomyopathy. An echocardiography is more accurate for evaluating certain issues related to the heart's function, such as how well the valves are closing or how much damage is being done to the muscle tissue, than other tests. For example, electrocardiograms (ECGs) can show changes associated with heart attacks but cannot tell us how well our hearts are functioning after an attack has occurred.
A stress echocardiography may be recommended by your doctor to screen for coronary artery disease. An echocardiography, on the other hand, cannot reveal any blockages in the heart's arteries. It can only tell how well the heart is functioning at rest or under stress.
Echocardiography uses sound waves and computer technology to create images of the heart. These images provide information about the size, shape, and function of the heart muscle as well as the presence of any problems such as blockages or abnormalities that could lead to heart failure. The ultrasound technician moves a transducer across the chest to obtain different views of the heart.
Stress echocardiography involves putting a patient through exercise tests on a treadmill or using their own body weight to perform squats or chin-ups. The patient is then given drugs which cause their heart to beat faster and work harder. Stress echocardiograms are used to determine whether or not patients have significant coronary artery disease. If so, further testing is needed to determine the best treatment option.
After the test is complete, the patient's blood pressure, heart rate, and other symptoms are monitored for several hours or days after the test. If there is no increase in these signs and symptoms, it means that the patient did not have a heart attack or suffer from another acute problem.
An echocardiography can detect heart chamber issues, improper connections between the heart and major blood arteries, and complicated cardiac anomalies that are present from birth. These problems may lead to symptoms such as shortness of breath, pain in your chest, or fatigue. An echocardiography can also reveal whether you are at risk for developing such conditions. For example, patients who have undergone radiation therapy for cancer of the head/neck region are at increased risk for having damage to their hearts' electrical system. They should therefore have an echocardiography performed annually after completion of treatment to look for evidence of heart disease or other problems related to radiation exposure.
Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, so it's important for us all to know how an echocardiography can help diagnose and treat patients with heart problems.
Echocardiography (echo) provides information on the size, shape, and movement of various parts of your heart. These components include the heart valves, the septum (the wall that separates the right and left heart chambers), and the heart chamber walls. Doppler ultrasonography visualizes the flow of blood via your heart. This technique can also be used to measure pressure within the heart chambers.
Echo scans use sound waves to create images of your heart. They are very safe and do not involve any radiation exposure. The echocardiographer performs the scan by placing special transducers on your chest wall where they transmit acoustic signals into your heart. The echoes from these pulses are then collected by a second set of transducers placed on your chest wall or in your hand. Information about the size and shape of your heart chambers is derived from measuring the time it takes for the pulse to travel between each pair of sensors. Color flow imaging adds detail to the standard two-dimensional image by showing the direction and speed of blood flow through your heart chambers. This allows the echocardiographer to see how well your heart's valves function and to identify potential blockages.
The duration of an echo examination depends on how many questions you have about your heart health. A complete study requires five minutes or less for adults and children older than two years. However, more detailed studies may need longer durations for optimal image quality.